Tactical Principles from Mandela  

Posted by Mike Sharrow in

Nelson Mandela recently shared in an article written for Time Magazine 8 life lessons for leadership. Here they are in brief:

1 Courage is not the absence of fear — it’s inspiring others to move beyond it
2 Lead from the front — but don’t leave your base behind
3 Lead from the back — and let others believe they are in front
4 Know your enemy — and learn about his favorite sport
5 Keep your friends close — and your rivals even closer
6 Appearances matter — and remember to smile
7 Nothing is black or white
8 Quitting is leading too

What do you think about these principles?

Some reactions:

1. isn't leadership more effective when transparent enough to acknowledge the opposing factors, but blaze ahead from overpowering confidence, boldness, conviction?

2. can't lead where you haven't gone or going...I've said that a number of times in the context of discipleship

3. see nobility

4. wise as serpent, gentle as doves...

5. propensity for us to allow differences and even adversarial realities to create distance can actually isolate us from insights and increase our vulnerability.

6. stumbling block concept is always valid - image is worth something.

7. one of my favorite-to-pounce conundrums: false dichotomies. Often times we back ourselves into an A or B mindset, when A and B are 2 of 12 legitimate options and a spectrum of hues in between!

8. not letting quitting be equal to utter defeat, not letting it compromise character...in so many ways knowing when to quit can be the trademark of executive prudence, and how to quit of wisdom

What are your reactions to any of these?

This entry was posted at Monday, September 01, 2008 and is filed under . You can follow any responses to this entry through the comments feed .

5 thoughts and responses

When it comes to quitting I have an Axiom "start stopping and stop starting" Sometimes we need to avoid doing the next thing that comes down the pipe and other times we need to 'quit' or kill sacred cows...Quitting is too often associated with a lack of will or failure of character and while this is a side to quitting there is also retreat...living to fight another day on a front with greater footing.

September 2, 2008 at 9:50 AM

mandela's wisdom is a gift. we would be similarly wise to pay attention.

September 2, 2008 at 5:27 PM

My first thought is, "who the heck is Nelson Mandela and Mother Teresa"? I mean really. Just because a guy/gal suffers does not elevate them to sainthood. Likely, I just stumbled back into the world of the heretical.

Before I put value on someone else's thoughts, I want to know. Are they a believer in Christ? Are their words inspired by the Word, the sword of the Spirit? If so, I'd be foolish to not consider their positive influence on my life.

But when you say something like, "Lead from the back — and let others believe they are in front" implies you choose to consciously manipulate the masses from some high and lofty position, driven by a personal agenda. Suffering does not necessarily produce wisdom.

September 6, 2008 at 7:29 AM
Bob Labkovic  

I didn't realize you had given your notice to the World of the Heretical...did they know you were missing?

If you apply the mindset of the Bereans, what would you think of the main posting?

September 7, 2008 at 8:10 AM

bob, would that be under the tutelage of Dr. John Thomas or St. Paul you refer to? Coming from Time Life it's likely from Dr. John of "The Trinity is Overrated." But, you asked and so from the "eyes of a dung beetle"...

1 "Courage is not the absence of fear — it’s inspiring others to move beyond it"

Fear can be an incredible motivator, yet the Word says fear not. God's plan for your life can be impacted by your response. You ever tried to roll a ball of dung across a 4 lane highway during rush hour?

2 "Lead from the front — but don’t leave your base behind"

Smart battle plan if your base is Christ. Sometimes you are called to lead whether anyone follows or not. Maybe I should just check the polls before I act, then I'll know if I step out.

3 "Lead from the back — and let others believe they are in front"

Hypocritical and manipulative. Will leave a lot of dung on the street, before I ever get the courage to cross.

4 "Know your enemy — and learn about his favorite sport"

The Berean would say, "love your enemy". If "bear baiting christians" were on his list of favorite sports, I suppose it would be good to know that.

5 "Keep your friends close — and your rivals even closer"

I'm speechless. Need to check with Paul....

6 "Appearances matter — and remember to smile"

Yeah. That's the picture of Paul I had in my mind. Sarcasm intended. Sounds like great political office running fodder. But, I do like a good smile. It impacts the tip I leave at a restaurant. Again, could be used to manipulate depending on motive. The enemy smiles as he puts a knife to your back.

7 "Nothing is black or white"

Ouch. Is this an ethic statement or has sin taken on the color of the rainbow?

8 "Quitting is leading too"

The Berean would plead and encourage others to continue to run the race for the high calling of Christ regardless of cost.

September 7, 2008 at 9:46 AM

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